Making for good – Starting at the end


While the month of January has flown by faster than ever before, we’ve been busy working with the British Red Cross to craft a seamless journey for volunteers signing up to be part of the mass vaccination efforts.

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The pandemic has brought social consciousness to the fore, highlighting our duty to be responsible citizens and put the health and safety of others first. It’s therefore no real surprise to hear that the third sector was flooded with new recruits. By May 2020, over 10 million adults had volunteered their time.

The challenge that The Red Cross faced when staffing the mass vaccination effort was not the usual one of finding enough people — instead, it was finding volunteers who would be safe and feel comfortable in a vaccination centre. The process must ensure that recruits are not clinically vulnerable, whilst also setting expectations and finding those who are ready and willing to commit to their role.

Volunteering at a vaccination centre can be demanding; the shifts are long, sometimes far from home, and of course, with new strains and a second peak, there are health and safety concerns amongst potential recruits.

The Red Cross needed to create an application journey that was powerful enough to mitigate concerns, whilst inspiring enough bravery and motivation to see volunteers all the way through from application to deployment.

Stop knowing the answers, start knowing the questions

At &us, we use a range of tools and approaches that we call ‘working with agility’ because every challenge is different. Before we got to making with The Red Cross, we flipped the project on its head and began by writing a case study.

A case study before we’d done the work?! That was my response too. But, we quickly realised that we needed to document the magnitude of the challenge, to zoom out and take a moment to think about the enormity of the vaccination effort.

We asked ourselves, what will we want to say about this work in 5 years time? What will make our delivery and our approach to the work, unique and valuable? The output was a powerful and punchy vision that we can continue to revisit as we make.

Thinking Expansively Around a Problem:

Next, we had to think broadly and expansively about the problem. By going big, we’d be better informed to tackle the more specific design challenges that we knew awaited us.

We faced the reality of the volunteer ask, and asked ourselves:

How do you inspire someone to do something that is demanding, potentially a risk to their health and has no tangible reward?

A big question to answer, we broke the work down into manageable chunks:

1. What is the broader context around the pandemic, what are people thinking and feeling and doing at the moment?

We started by brain dumping on Miro. Scribbling down everything we know about behaviours and feelings during the COVID-19 crisis, from spending more time on screens, to what we see in the media and how the pandemic is affecting mental health and morale.

2. Who are the people who are most likely to be able and willing to volunteer?

To help us understand potential motivations for applying, we sketched out some rough and ready personas, considering those who are the most time rich to be a good place to start. We thought about the needs and frustrations of recent graduates, empty nesters, and those who are on furlough or out of work, what is likely to inspire them, or cause them to drop off?

3. What can we compare a volunteer journey to, and what would an ideal journey look like?

Applying for a volunteer role can be compared to many different journeys. We looked at onboarding journeys from other industries to draw inspiration such as joining a gym and booking a flight. To help us solve the problem creatively, we used this research as a foundation to map out a “To Be” journey — in an ideal world, how would this look?

4. What is the right tone of voice to inspire a behaviour change of this magnitude in the current climate?

We looked at previous British Red Cross campaigns to understand more about their brand personality. We gathered inspiration from other big brands and campaigns that aim to inspire people to make a change or carry out an action. To guide our thinking, we reached into our ever growing toolbox and used a few useful frameworks to inspire creative thinking.

We came up with 3 clear tones of voice, each with a goal of what feeling they were trying to trigger, or what question they were attempting to answer.

So what now?

The next couple of weeks looks busy and exciting. We’ve been thinking expansively about the problem, painting a big picture to inspire and inform our concepts. Next, we’ll present our process to the team at the British Red Cross before we choose a strategy to help us tackle the more specific design challenges that await us. Follow the next steps of the journey as we ideate, make and test!

You can read our Making for Good with the British Red Cross series which covers why we started working with the BRChow to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and how we helped the BRC accelerate their volunteer journey.

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